Remembering Ryan O’Neal


Actor Ryan O’Neal, a giant of movies in the 1970s who died Friday at the age of 82, probably wouldn’t mind if the first thing you think of is his role in “Love Story,” a tearjerker defined by its soundtrack, and its catch-phrase: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

They were words that turned out to be oddly prophetic in O’Neal’s life. “I’ve had to say ‘I’m sorry’ a lot in my life, that’s all I know,” he told “Sunday Morning” in 2021.

Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal on making “Love Story”


O’Neal was talented, but troubled.

He was cast as the lead in Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon.”

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He played opposite Barbra Streisand in “What’s Up, Doc?”

What’s Up, Doc? (1972) – That’s All Folks! Scene (10/10) | Movieclips by
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He even helped make his daughter, Tatum, an Oscar-winner at 10 in “Paper Moon.”

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But his boy-next-door image was sometimes at odds with his personal life, marked by a hot temper, drugs and alcohol.

The one constant in his life, though, was Farrah Fawcett. Their relationship was an on-again/off-again affair, but by most accounts always tender.  

In 2001, when O’Neal was diagnosed with leukemia, she was there. Five years later, when Fawcett began her own three-year battle with terminal cancer, he was there for her. He even suggested that the hospital chaplain marry the two near the end. “She said, ‘Okay, let’s get married,'” O’Neal told “CBS This Morning” in 2012. “But by then, she was so weak that he was only able to give her the last rites.”

Their relationship was “Love Story,” in a way – just as passionate, and in the end, just as cruel.

Maybe the reason Ryan O’Neal’s performance in that film has stuck with us for so long is because it represents a place we all hope we find before it’s too late.

Story produced by Mark Hudspeth. Editor: Emanuele Secci. 

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